TEHRAN, Iran – The speaker of Iran's parliament warned Israelis on Tuesday that no part of their country is safe from Hezbollah's attacks.
The comments by Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel called into question Tehran's official position that it is not involved in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"The towns you have built in northern Palestine [Israel] are within the range of the brave Lebanese children. No part of Israel will be safe," Haddad Adel told thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators in Palestine Square.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki indicated that Iran may be playing a covert role in the fighting when he said Monday that a cease-fire was feasible. He spoke after talks with the Syrian government in Damascus.
Iran and its ally Syria are the principal backers of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group that provoked the current fighting when its guerrillas seized two Israeli soldiers last week. On Monday, Israeli military officials said their planes had destroyed a long-range missile in Lebanon, named "Zelzal," that Hezbollah had received from Iran.
Israel has alleged that 100 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are in Lebanon acting as advisers to Hezbollah. Iran has denied the accusation, saying Hezbollah is strong enough to defend itself.
In his speech, Haddad Adel praised Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, calling him a "brave lion," and said the Palestinians and Lebanese had every right to fight Israel.
Referring to the Israeli offensive in Gaza that began after militants captured an Israeli soldier, Haddad Adel said to Israel: "If you have the right to start a massacre to free one prisoner, Palestinians and Lebanese have far more right to fight you to free hundreds of their prisoners, including Cabinet ministers and lawmakers."
The speaker, who is not among the most influential officials in Iran, also scoffed at reports of a division within Lebanon between Hezbollah supporters and those who criticize the group for provoking Israel into a destruction campaign in Lebanon.
He said Israelis "want to turn the Lebanese people against Hezbollah and disarm it, but they are unaware of the fact that Lebanese people know the value of resistance, and the value of Hezbollah's weapons, more than they did beforehand."
He also warned that there would be no peace until the United States stopped supporting Israel.
Addressing Washington, he said: "Either cut your support for Israel, or don't expect peace and compromise with the world."
The crowd responded with chants of "Death to Israel!"